The Three Sisters – Growing Sweet Corn, Courgettes/Zucchini and Beans

Sweet Corn, Courgettes/Zucchini and Beans…..Why mix all these together I hear you ask…….well Sweet Corn and Courgettes/Zucchini are very hungry nitrogen plants and deplete the soil of this very important nutrient. On the other hand the beans (or peas) actually do the opposite and put nitrogen back into the soil….so by planting these together hopefully we will have a happy balance of nutrients. This combination of plants is often referred to as ‘The Three Sisters’, which is an ancient method of gardening. Sometimes this is done in a mound or hill but I plant all of mine level and it works!

Corn is the oldest sister. She stands tall in the center. Courgette/Zucchini (Squash) is the next sister and she grows over the ground protecting her sisters from weeds and shades the soil from the sun with her leaves, keeping it cool and moist. The third and final sister is the Bean (or pea) and she climbs up the sweet corn as she reaches for the sun. Beans help keep the soil fertile by converting the sun’s energy into nitrogen filled nodules that grow on its roots. As beans grow they use the stored nitrogen as food…..Lesson Over

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10 responses

  1. I used a variation of this method for the first time this year. Planted rows of beans and corn next to each other. Hoping for good results.

  2. Thanks for the follow. I think my allotment will benefit a lot from following your useful advice. Am interested in the piece above, and have been meaning to try it. African farmers use the three sisters method, although in the past colonial agriculture officers tried to stop them from growing crops this way. I think scientific opinion has now seen some common sense and is actively encouraging it. My plant pathologist other half tells me that mixing up crops is also good for confusing pests, but hopefully not the gardener. I get confused enough. Also envy your magnificent poly tunnel. Thanks for all the great tips. Need to go and feed my strawberries at once.

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